Institute of Marine Affairs preliminary report on the investigation and fingerprint analysis of the oil spill in the Gulf of Paria.
On Wednesday December 18, 2013, the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) responded to a report of an oil spill in the coastal waters off Pointe-a-Pierre. The Institute was informed that on Tuesday, December 17, a leaking pipeline at Petrotrin accidentally spilled approximately 7,000 gallons of fuel oil into the Gulf off the Pointe-a-Pierre jetty. The institute responded immediately to the notification and surveyed the area off San Fernando Wharf. The inspection revealed no visible impacts at the shoreline in San Fernando—an observation that was confirmed by the fisherfolk in the area.
Subsequent to the investigation at San Fernando, the IMA received reports of two additional oil spills in South Trinidad: the first at La Brea and the other at Chatham. These reports were provided to the IMA by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and the IMA responded to the notifications on Thursday, December 19 and Friday, December 20, respectively.
Surveys were conducted at both sites and the investigation revealed that the Beach area at La Brea, commonly referred to as “Carrat Shed Beach”, “Station Beach’ and the shoreline of LABIDCO Industrial estate were severely impacted by a thick, black layer of oil. A total of five samples of oil were taken at the La Brea site for fingerprinting analysis by the IMA. The IMA also requested a sample of oil from the source of the spill site at Petrotrin, Pointe-a-Pierre through the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs for comparative analysis. Petrotrin’s Environmental Health and Safety Division provided the sample in duplicate.
Staff at Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre operations also provided the IMA with a sample of oil taken at the old Jetty, Carrat Shed Beach, La Brea on Wednesday, December 17 2013.
On Friday, December 20, 2013, the IMA conducted a survey of Granville Beach and collected two samples from the beach area and four additional samples from a barge moored at the LABIDCO Industrial estate for oil fingerprinting analysis.
Fingerprinting analyses of the oil samples were performed using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). The samples were analysed for aliphatic (n-alkanes) hydrocarbons and the aliphatic profile used identify the sample.
Analysis of the aliphatic(n-alkanes) hydrocarbonchromatograms of the source oil sample from Petrotrin, Pointe-a-Pierre indicated that the oil was a Bunker “C” type fuel oil.
Analysis of the oil samples collected by IMA on Thursday, December 19 at the oil impacted areas of La Brea indicated the oil was also a Bunker “C” typeoil and not crude oil in origin. Similarly, the sample of oil taken on December 17 at the Jetty area of “Carrat Shed beach” La Brea and provided to the IMA by Petrotrin was found to be a Bunker “C” type oil and similar in characteristics to the oil samples collected by IMA on the shoreline at La Brea on Thursday 19 December, 2013. Fingerprinting analysis of the samples collected at Granville Beach showed the sample to be of type of Bunker “C” oil and not crude oil in origin and an analysis of the four samples of oil collected at the vessel at the LABIDCO indicated that these samples were similar in type to diesel oil or fuel oil #2.e in origin.
The results of the fingerprinting analysis indicate that the samples collected at La Brea and Grande Ville are Bunker “C” type fuel oil in origin and the four samples collected from the barge moored at LABDICO were diesel oil or fuel oil #2.e in origin.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
• IMA surveyed the area at San Fernando on Wednesday 18 December and confirmed that that there was no oil impact at the shoreline.
• Analysis of the aliphatic (n-alkanes) hydrocarbon chromatograms of the source oil sample from Petrotrin, Pointe-a- Pierre indicated that the fuel oil was a Bunker “C” type fuel oil.
• Analysis of the oil samples collected by IMA on Thursday 19 December at the oil impacted areas of La Brea indicated that the type of oil was also a Bunker “C” type oil and not crude oil.
• The sample of oil collected by Petrotrin on the December 18 at the Jetty area of “Carrat Shed beach” La Brea was found to be a Bunker “C” type oil and was similar to the oil samples collected by IMA on the shoreline at La Brea.
• Analysis of the oil samples collected by IMA on Thursday 19 December at the oil impacted areas of Grande Ville indicated that the type of oil was also a Bunker “C” type oil and not crude oil.
• Analysis of samples obtained from the barge at LABDICO indicated that the fuel contained was diesel oil which is known as fuels oil #2.
• The results of the fingerprinting analysis indicate a strong resemblance between the samples of oil found at La Brea and Granville and the oil at the spill site at Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre which suggest a link between these samples.